Command Line

A blog and podcast exploring the rough edges where society, public policy and computers meet.

Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Podcast SciFi Series Stranger Things Evolves

Posted by Thomas Gideon on May 30, 2008

Earl Newton the creator of the amazing podcast only, video science fiction anthology series, Stranger Things, shared his big news today. I was at this live event this past weekend and if you missed it, you missed a hell of a well put together shindig.

I remember when I first heard of Stranger Things on Slice of SciFi. I was skeptical at first. Sturgeon’s law is as in effect with podcasting as anything else so news of a new show is a gamble. I heard some good buzz, though, before I finally watched my first episode. In this case, that word of mouth excitement was spot on. I was blown away by that first story and every one since, including the sneak peek to which we were treated at the Singularity event at Balticon.

I had a chance to catch up with Earl at the event and after. I expressed my appreciation not only for the wonderful production values, explaining how I felt they were well worth the longer release cycles on the episodes, but also how much I really enjoyed the distinctive editorial character of the series. He expressed his gratitude and explained that the consistent vision was very intentional. I was glad to hear it as that fact pretty much guarantees I will enjoy every episode he produces, based solely on his track record to date.

My household is on satellite and doesn’t get Illusion, the VOD channel that is picking up Stranger Things. I was delighted at Earl’s insistence during his announcement that the podcast will continue the same as before. The implication was clear that he could not have succeeded so well without his original audience and was not going to abandon us any time soon. For both the existing and the new audience, what the support from Illusion really means is that once the logistics are established, Earl and crew will be able to put episodes out on a much more regular schedule.

Earl shared that this transition will require a bit more patience but I think it will be worth the wait. I’ve spoken with him a bit about the next two episodes after The Latchkeepers. I would crawl across broken glass if that meant I got to see them. Waiting a bit longer until he gets settled into his new production arrangement should not be anywhere near as big a sacrifice.

Posted in Entertainment | 1 Comment »

New NIN Album Available in Part for Free, with CC License

Posted by Thomas Gideon on March 4, 2008

It looks like every aspect of this album was experimental, what started as an EP ended up as four volumes totaling 36 tracks.

Eyes were closed, hands played instruments and it began. Within a matter of days it became clear we were on to something, and a lot of material began appearing.

Like In Rainbows the album is available as a download and a premium physical package. Unlike that work, the prices are already set. The first volume, 9 tracks, is available entirely for free as high quality MP3 files without a need to provide anything other than your email address. All of the editions, free, download and pay include a download component that comes with absolutely no DRM whatsoever. For only $5 you can get all four albums as a download in the same format, plus some additional formats, including lossless ones like FLAC. Both download editions come with some extra goodies like a 40-page PDF and some desktop wallpapers and the like.

The physical editions contain many more extras along with the physical media. Each one appears to include all of the goodies of the cheaper editions so it really is more of choice of how much you want to spend. The $300 ultra deluxe, limited edition includes premiums like high quality, hard cover books and even vinyl. Given all of the extras in all of the for pay versions, I doubt anyone unwilling to pay for the more expensive editions will feel at all shorted. I am going to grab the $10 edition which seems like an absolute steal considering what you get.

Here’s the real silver lining, on the FAQ page, plain as day, the license for all editions: CC BY-NC-SA. That means as long as you don’t sell it, you are free to share and better yet, you are explicitly allowed to remix just so long as you re-distribute anything you create under the same license conditions. This license choice sets Ghosts I-IV apart from similar experiments and clearly shows that Reznor gets how sharing and enabling his fans is a reward that will no doubt encourage many to seriously consider going ahead and putting down the change for one of the non-free editions.

Note: I just got my download link and here’s a clarification. When you download you have to choose a format. The choices are great, but you have to pick one and once you do, you cannot use the link again. The advice on the page is good but having to choose is a bit of a pain. The MP3 option is the highest quality possible with that format. Either of the lossless formats can be burned to CD and re-ripped without any quality loss that you wouldn’t incur ripping a pre-produced CD, so something to think about if you are an audiophile. Since I opted for one of the CD packages, I am considering the download something to hold me over until they start shipping in April so I went with the MP3 option.

This story was originally posted on Open Media Review.

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Amazon Rolling Out MP3 Store Internationally This Year

Posted by Thomas Gideon on January 27, 2008

Saw this on Engadget. Details are few and the time frame is vague, but another step towards applying stronger competitive pressure on Apple.

I also wonder if this will strengthen the push by some countries in the EU to make Apple allow for better device portability with their DRM’ed offerings? Ideally, it would suggest a better path, that Apple needs to expand their own DRM free offerings much more quickly than they are.

Does anyone else feel like they made a big splash then have done very little else since?

Posted in Entertainment, Hacktivism | Leave a Comment »

Cloverfield Review on the ADDCast

Posted by Thomas Gideon on January 21, 2008

As good as his word, Paul has posted the Cloverfield review we recorded Friday night after the premiere.

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Amazon Kindle Runs Linux

Posted by Thomas Gideon on November 20, 2007

Like the file format question, more of my initial apprehension about the Kindle are falling. Seems like it may be more open the suspected. How long, then, before it is hacked to open it up and away from Amazon’s captive service? To be fair, they may provide mechanisms I am not anticipating to load your own content.

Still, the price point and the EVDO deal seem targeted more at lock in. That and that the blogs supported do not seem to be through standard RSS subscription, rather through some Amazon jiggery pokery. Four hundred seems a lot to pay to try to hack what otherwise might be a suitable device. Well, that and the lack of WiFi that I already discussed.

Dose anyone know if there is an SD format WiFi card?

Posted in Entertainment, Linux | 5 Comments »

Amazon Kindle (Updated)

Posted by Thomas Gideon on November 19, 2007

The dedicated eBook reader has been still born, to date. Amazon seems to be hoping it can defy this trend with its just announced reader, Kindle.

Details are scant, in particular on the specific file format and the possibility of adding third party titles. All of the details in Amazon’s press release emphasis delivery of content exclusively from Amazon. The emphasis is on the free EVDO access and “WhisperNet” delivery service they have built around the reader. I found it curious that they tout EVDO as superior since you don’t have to find a hot spot. Why not take a page from Apple’s play book and do both? WiFi is definitely faster and if Amazon ever starts charging for the data service, which I think will be likely, then users who do not wish to pay and are fortunate to live in a well saturated area can opt out and still have a usable device.

The physical specs of the device seem worthwhile though the $400 price point seems a bit high. I wonder if that’s to offset Amazon eating the costs of the EVDO. Admittedly, text is not particular bandwidth intensive but no doubt it will add up. Especially since Amazon appears to be offering periodicals and web sites in addition to just books.

Over all, I don’t think the Kindle is worth the price of admission unless it is a lot more open than the initial details make clear. Or imminently hackable like some of is predecessors. If it is either, it still remains to be seen if it will be a game changer. That is certainly not how Amazon is positioning it, really, so I think it already has some net drag to overcome in that role.

Updated: Engadget has more details and it does look like the file format support is better than I expected. But email Word and PDF to Amazon for conversion? Really? Let’s hope that either this is a consequence of a rushed launch or someone else cracks their “Structured HTML” and writes a 3rd part converter. (“Structured HTML”??? Really? I mean, I know some browsers area really lenient, downright lazy even, but HTML by definition is structured. Maybe it is market speak or a tired brain at Engadget that contributed that irksome phrase.)

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Playing for Keeps Sneak Peek

Posted by Thomas Gideon on October 30, 2007

It hasn’t even been a full day since I gave Mur her props for doing such clueful promotion when I spotted that a special preview of chapter 1 has appeared in the wild. Check it out and if you like it, go to the official web site for Playing for Keeps and subscribe.

Posted in Entertainment, New Media | Leave a Comment »

New Media Juggernaut, Playing for Keeps

Posted by Thomas Gideon on October 30, 2007

Say what you will about the differences between traditional media and “new media”, but its hard not to notice just how much more the most visible adopters of online distribution and amateur produced content get the fact that success hinges on engaging with your audience and giving them a more compelling experience than just transacting for a pre-packaged, impersonal good. (Here I use amateur in the sense of one who does for love of the work, definitely not the more modern usage that connotes lack of skill.)

Nowhere is this more evident than in the full court press currently underway by Mur Lafferty for her podcast novel, Playing for Keeps, set to launch this Thursday, November 1st.

I’ve known Mur pretty much since I started podcasting and with this latest endeavor have had opportunity to peek behind the curtain. Beyond the interest she has been able to generate through sharing her experiences first hand finishing, editing and shopping the novel on her writing podcast, I Should Be Writing, she has found a motivated core of contributors that are building an engaging experience around the audio of the novel itself. All of this, the novel and the fan built media, is free to the listener.

Mur could have continued to shop the novel or have trunked it after her first attempt to find a publisher. I am not sure this even occurred to her. Early on in the process of trying to get her work out through traditional publishing, she was already discussing with her audience sharing the work through podcasting if she did not find an outlet within a ten month span.

If you enjoy comic books, especially some of the more literate and sophisticated ones like Astro City, then you’ll almost certainly enjoy Playing for Keeps. And by subscribing, you’ll be supporting and encouraging more such clueful and innovative works of all genres and varieties.

Posted in Entertainment, New Media | Leave a Comment »

TuneCore Now Targets Amazon’s MP3 Service

Posted by Thomas Gideon on October 1, 2007

I actually saw this in a Guitar Center flyer that I received because of all the hardware I’ve purchased for podcasting. Guitar Center’s partner for publishing indie music, TuneCore, is now including Amazon’s new MP3 service. I know CDBaby includes a similar offering that hits iTunes as well as CD resellers. I hope CDBaby will also extend their offering to include the new store, this can only enhance both musician and consumer choice.

Posted in Entertainment | 2 Comments »

PC Edition of Bioshock Does NOT Install a Rootkit

Posted by Thomas Gideon on August 27, 2007

Ars has the explanation. Apologies for linking to this rumor in the last set of quick links. According to Ars, incomplete information and assumptions about Microsoft’s Rootkit Reveal actually led to what would seem like a reasonable conclusion, especially given Sony’s involvement and past antics. Glad to see and share a clarification on what would otherwise be a rather inflammatory story.

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Posted in Entertainment, Security | Leave a Comment »

Intel Ad Series by Christopher Guest

Posted by Thomas Gideon on July 26, 2007

I’m with Bruce Schneier on this one, speechless. And if you look in the related videos, there are more. Too funny.

Posted in Entertainment, Security | Leave a Comment »

New Calls for Cthulhu

Posted by Thomas Gideon on July 2, 2007

Sorry, this is a guilty pleasure of mine, as my social network friends well know. The new episode is live! They’ve gone back to the longer format and the original opening. Much better.

Posted in Entertainment | 2 Comments »

iTunes Plus Dropped Today

Posted by Thomas Gideon on May 30, 2007

iTunes 7.2 came down in software update today and the biggest feature is the new iTunes Plus, a section of the store wherein the new DRM-free offerings are available. I like that they have compartmentalized the current and future offerings so if you only want to see the “Plus” music, you can do that without any real effort. All the usual browse and search functions are available and when jumping into the iTunes Plus area limited to just the good, new hotness.

I’ve already run their upgrade option on my existing music and was disappointed that I only had one applicable tune. Hopefully as other labels come on board, it will keep giving me the option to upgrade any other tracks that become eligible down the road.

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Another DRM-free Music Retailer

Posted by Thomas Gideon on April 18, 2007

Saw this on Boing Boing and decided to check it out. It lacks some discovery features, like streams by artist, genre or at random. But you can’t argue with the fact that they offering is plain MP3, first of all, and also that it is 192KBps quality at a price point comparable per track and better per album than iTMS.

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Apple/EMI Deal as Standards Play

Posted by Thomas Gideon on April 5, 2007

Interesting business week article about which I am a little conflict. The according debunks many of the iPod and AAC misconceptions that are driving me up a while. I especially like the list of players, other than the iPod, that support AAC. I wish there was a mention of Dolby’s relationship to AAC, since I think that clarifies much confusion about AAC being an Apple only format.

I guess killing WMA in favor of AAC is technical a “standards war”, but the article’s title is more evocative of AAC supplanting MP3, which I don’t see happening. And another, possibly unintended, benefit of Apple’s higher bit rate, AAC offering of EMI songs is that transcoding from AAC to MP3 will typically result in less perceptible quality loss. Although this is not as compelling as the article’s point about direct support for AAC, it is only a small amount of friction to a dedicate use of a player without AAC support buying and using iTunes/EMI tracks.

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Posted in Entertainment, Hacktivism | Leave a Comment »


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